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Ideas, respect makes us one in purpose

This is an interesting story about the building of the suspension bridge across the Niagara River right next to Niagara Falls in 1848. It was the first bridge to link Canada and the U.S. over the falls.

The engineers knew that for them to build the suspension bridge, they had to find a way to string a huge steel cable across the chasm. But the water was treacherous. They could not do it by boat. This was 1848, so they couldn’t do it by airplane either. How could they get this huge cable across?

As the story goes, a 10-year-old boy solved their problem. The engineers heard that the little local boy was an excellent kite flier, and they had him fly a kite with a strong thin filament, actually a thread.

The boy was such a good a kite flier that he was able to stand on one side, fly the kite really high, and then direct the kite so it landed on the other side where other engineers were waiting.

Once they had the kite, they had the thread going across the water. They then tied a stronger string to the thread and pulled that across.

Stronger and stronger

Then the ropes came, stronger and stronger. They sent across the first steel cable, a thin one – then a stronger one, and a stronger one – until they were able to string the support cable across the water.  Once that cable was across, they could begin building the bridge.

Now, which was more important: the strong steel cable, or the thin string?

Maybe the strong one did the heavy lifting, but that thin string was as important as every other string, rope or cable.

All too often, especially during difficult contract negotiations, we find that there is a lot of internal bickering and fighting and factions among officers and factions of members, rather than a focus on protecting all our wages and benefits.


Within our locals we can have constructive debate about our differences. However, we need to put all internal bickering that is not constructive and differences aside.   We are only as strong as our weakest links.

Local leaders also need to listen to all members.  In part it is the dialogue of different ideas and the respect shown one another that makes us one in purpose.  Our predecessors were able to do so.

Together, similar to a boy, his kite and engineers, they wove their ideas together and created the ATU and paved a path to the benefits we all enjoy today.

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